Title: Sloppy Firsts
Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Number of Pages: 304
Advertised Age Level: Young Adult
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 16 yrs./Junior
Language: moderate use of profanity, use of the f-word
Sex: kissing, no explicit descriptions of sex although sex is talked about openly and frankly, including various forms of sexual expression
Drug/Alcohol Use: while drug and alcohol consumption are not described explicitly, drug use by some characters is heavily implied
Social Issues: teen sex, drug use, including death from overdose and drug testing, promiscuity, mean girl behaviour, body image, eating disorders
Suggested Movie Grade: PG-13/R depending on maturity of reader
Premise: Told in journal-style, Sloppy Firsts follows 16 year old Jessica Darling as she tries to survive the rest of the school year after her best friend, Hope, moves out of town. Smart and athletic, Jessica struggles to understand her other friends who are obsessed with boys, shopping and their weight. Everyone thinks she should be dating her former best friend, Scott, but Jessica finds herself inexplicably drawn to bad-boy and notorious druggie Marcus “Krispy Kreme” Flutie. Her family provides little support, her mother and sister obsessed over her sister’s upcoming wedding and her father unable to focus on anything other than Jessica’s status as a track and field star.
As she struggles to make sense of it all, Jessica suffers from insomnia, copes with guilt when she helps Marcus Flutie fake a drug test, and tries not to lose her cool in front of all of her friends.
Comments: Depictions of teenage sexuality are frank and unambiguous. Several characters are portrayed as promiscuous, although Jessica is and remains a virgin. Various sexual acts are mentioned although none are described graphically.
Jessica’s friend Hope’s older brother died of a heroin overdose, which is discussed. Marcus Flutie is portrayed as a drug user, although there are no direct depictions of drug or alcohol use. Marcus must take a drug test which he passes only after Jessica agrees to supply the urine for the test.
Jessica’s parents lost an infant son to SID and the grief they still feel is frequently referenced.
Jessica does not respect the girls she hangs around with and complains about them via letters and e-mails to Hope. Various girls engage in mean girl behaviour toward each other and other characters. There are discussions about body image issues and eating disorders, and one character is constantly trying to lose weight.
Jessica’s world view is very cynical, and her observations are often dark and jaded. She is presented as very mature for her age, critical of her peers and disapproving of her family in general. While her viewpoint is probably very much in line of the way real teens think, there is no sugar-coating of her experience – this is frank book that discusses teen issues honestly and openly.
Age Appropriateness: ages 15 and older